Beauty and the Beast was always my favorite. I loved when Belle and the Beast realized they were in love, he turned back into a man, and they lived happily ever after. Same with the rest of the crew: Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty… that’s where we learned about what love was supposed to look like. We grew up watching these princesses fall in love with a prince who had perfect hair, never did anything annoying, and probably always texted back within 2 minutes.
Or how about when we used to play ‘house’ in our friend’s basements (up to an age that’s too old for me to admit – Emily I hope you’re reading this). We’d give ourselves fake last names and talk about what our husbands did and how many kids we had. And do I even mention how I gave every Barbie I owned a boyfriend with matching hair..because that’s how it worked, right?
Then we grew up, because life forces you to.
I’m sure you remember the first time you really hurt someone. And I know you’ll never forget, for the rest of your life, the first time someone broke your heart. The pain is hard to forget and it changes you forever. I used to think failed relationships were pointless and an unfortunate waste of time. Until I realized how my past had slowly turned me into a girl who didn’t focus her life around finding romantic love. Instead, I started to focus on how much I was already loved by God and my family, and learned to put my goals and the people I loved at the center of my life. Here are some of the ways i’m looking at love a little differently now at age 26, and how I’m attempting to navigate relationships with a healthier and more realistic approach:
1. A man shouldn’t make your life, he should just make your life better
I can’t stress the importance of a couple who has their own lives outside of each other enough. When other areas of your life are fulfilled, you don’t turn into the clingy weirdo who relies completely on someone else to satisfy every aspect of your life. Your goal should always be to be emotionally and financially fine on your own before adding someone else into the picture.
2. Strongly consider the future and focus on compatibility
I used to roll my eyes when my mom would tell me relationships were a partnership. That sounded so boring. But picking your person really does have so much to do with mutual interests and similar family backgrounds (there mom, I said it). A happy, healthy relationship should look more like a best friendship than an episode of The Bachelor.
3. Let your pride go and stop assuming.
I used to be so bad at this. I was the girl who would get so upset in certain situations and stay silent expecting the other person to read my mind. It wasn’t until recently that I figured out it saves a lot of time and pointless fighting to just let go of your pride and walk the person through what you want. You just can’t assume they’ll know what you’re thinking unless you communicate it to them.
4. Ask yourself if the other person makes you a better person?
Take a step back. Are they making you the best version of yourself? Do they make you like yourself more? Are you more confident? Do they challenge you, but also make you feel comfortable in your own skin?
5. Ignore social media relationships
Remind yourself that in 90% of couple Instagram pictures, he’s probably complaining about taking the picture. Nothing hinders a relationship more than a skewed idea of what your relationship ‘should’ look like.
6. Pray about it
Be open to receiving whatever answer He gives you. Even if it’s to walk away.
7. Know when it’s time to get a new “type”
Stop fishing in the same pool of bad fish if you want to find a good one. One of my best friends told me to write down what I’m looking for in someone on a business card and carry it with me to remind myself what I wanted/needed.
I’m obviously no expert considering I’ve made 95% of the mistakes above, but I think that getting your priorities straight will alleviate the pressure to find love and make it more of an enjoyable journey. I’ll never stop being a hopeless romantic, because love really is beautiful. Even if it isn’t the romanticized idea of love I used to have in my head. Whether you’re involved in a relationship right now you’re not too sure about, or if you’re still searching for your Ken doll with matching hair, I hope you’ll start to approach love with both your head and your heart!